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Ecclesistical & Heritage World No.99

Britain’s heritage attractions suffer rise in graffiti, anti-social behaviour and verbal abuse, new research finds

0n7752New research commissioned by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical has revealed heritage organisations are a prime target for vandals as a third (32%) were defaced by graffiti during the past 12 months, up 9% on the previous year. 

The survey of 500 heritage decision makers found a third (32%) suffered anti-social behaviour, up 3%, and three in 10 (30%) reported experiencing verbal abuse towards staff and volunteers from visitors, up 4%.

In April, vandals spray-painted graffiti on walls, flagstone floors, and a historic fountain in Linlithgow Palace in Scotland.

Overall, nine in 10 (90%) heritage organisations have experienced crime during the past 12 months, down slightly by 1% on the previous year.  

Crime is a top concern for heritage organisations, six in 10 (57%) are expecting an increase in crime over the next year, and seven in 10 (69%) are more concerned about crime than ever before. 

The research discovered the majority (94%) of heritage organisations have had to deal with challenging visitor behaviour during the past year. Almost half (46%) suffered littering, up 12% on the previous year, and 46% suffered rude or aggressive behaviour from visitors towards staff or volunteers, up 5%. 

The majority (95%) of heritage organisations are taking proactive steps to prevent crime. The top security investments made during the past 12 months were CCTV (58%), security guards and patrols (47%), and alarms (44%). 

However, the research found heritage organisations are reviewing their crime and security risks less frequently, and two thirds (68%) believe their organisation needs to do more to prevent crime.

Faith Kitchen, customer segment director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As the UK’s leading insurer of Grade I listed buildings, we’re passionate about protecting Britain’s heritage. Our research shows heritage organisations are a prime target for criminals and it is concerning to see that graffiti and anti-social behaviour has increased. There are a number of measures heritage organisations can take to better secure property and assets, which would ideally be a combination of both physical and electronic protection. Reviewing perimeter security arrangements, ensuring entry points are well lit and secured can often offer a good first line of defence against unwanted visitors, while CCTV can act as a visual deterrent for those not wanting to be caught on camera.”        

Ecclesiastical Insurance offers a range of risk management support and guidance to help heritage organisations manage the risks they face. For more information visit www.ecclesiastical.com/riskmanagement